Expedition tents - summer use?

1:32 a.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)


How practicalare expedition-type tents for summer use? For example a 'North Face Mountain 25' or a 'Mountain Hardware Trango'.

I live in South Africa where we have torrential rain in summer and occasional high winds in the Drakensberg mountains. So I need a tent robust enough to withstand these conditions. I've read too many reviews of 3-Season tents leaking in the rain, and I don't want to take the chance.

My main concern with using an expedition tent in summer is that it will be too warm at night.

What do you think?
Cheers Greg

2:20 a.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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I have owned/used a number of highend tents in western and northern Canada, sometimes on quite long excursions and very severe weather conditions. I now have an Integral Designs MKI-XL as my winter tent and a Hilleberg Saivo as my basecamp tent, these are both expedition grade for sure!

I will never again bother with a "3 season" tent, it's a waste of money here as I have learned the hard way. For you, I highly recommend Hilleberg tents...nothing better.

I have quite a few friends here in Canada from South Africa, actually Evan Jones of Integral Design is from there....and makes superb gear!

12:43 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Greg -

With most expedition tents, and the two you specifically mention, you can always open the doors to the vestibules (both have vestibules at both ends) and open the main doors, leaving the bug netting zipped closed. This gives plenty of through-ventilation. I have a MH Trango 3.1 and have used the TNF Mountain 25 many times. I also have a Bibler Eldorado with the 2 door option, very similar to the Integral Designs that Kutenay mentions. I don't own a Hilleberg, but have long been impressed with their quality. Bo Hilleberg tests all his tents extensively under a wide variety of conditions (I always enjoy visiting with him and viewing his photos of his many outings). Hilleberg has several new tents that you might look at, a couple of which are free-standing (most Hillebergs are tunnel style).

Even on expeditions on Denali and in Antarctica, I have encountered days where it was necessary to open the tents and get lots of ventilation (for example, on the glaciers on approach where the ice and snow-covered sides of the valleys act like a reflector oven). We have measured temperatures of 90-100F inside the tents before opening them up to let the breezes through. The only downside is that expedition tents are heavy (and, of course, expensive relative to 3-season and lesser tents). The Hillebergs are actually pretty light for expedition tents.

10:01 p.m. on August 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Greg -

I have an Eureka! K2-XT that makes a great summer tent. It is a knockoff of The North Face VE-25, but with multiple side and roof panels that zip open to expose no-see-up netting. The double roof vents keep mine relatively cool during the summer - when I need to have the fly on. It also has the same double door setup with front and rear vestibles as the VE-25. I've had nine inches of snow on top and survived four hours of sleet and hail with little more than a bad headache because the polyester fly acted like a drum. It's a bit heavy for backpacking (12 lbs.), but it is extremely well made (even for a Eureka!), and is extremely sturdy during high winds. It is actually the only tent that my wife "asks" me to carry when we go backpacking; because of the interior size, the ventilation when it's hot, and the warmth when it gets cold out.

I got mine at Cabelas when they had them special made in forest green, black, and light grey. (Gorgeous tent!) Unfortunately, Cabelas doesn't carry them any more, so you'd be stuck with the expedition orange color - unless you could find one on e-bay.

In addition to Bill's suggestions, there is also the Marmot Swallow. It also has several "windows" and a double door configuration. I don't own that one - yet, but there are several extremely positive reviews for it on here. MSR also makes some convertable tents - maybe someone has one of those.

10:50 p.m. on September 17, 2007 (EDT)
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Yup; why restrict yourself to a "3 season" when a 4 season/expedition tent would be stronger, more durable, marginally heavier if made by a superlative manufacturer?
You can always vent to reduce temps if too warm.

5:26 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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It seemed when I started living out back in the late 1970s all that was available were just regular 4 season tents. I got the old North Face A-frame Toulumne and it wasn't designated 3 season or convertible or whatever, just a good tent for rough weather. Now, it's all confusing.

I currently own a Hilleberg Staika free standing dome and wonder why it's taken me so long to get one. It's a great tent in all ways, the best tent in a long line of personal tents, and I went thru the North Face Westwind(good-discontinued), Eureka Timberland(who hasn't?), and Mt Hardwear(Muir Trail-strong, Light Wedge-light, Hammerhead, Mountain Jet). I say go for the best 4 season you can afford. When you're on top of a high bald in a summer thunderstorm, you'll be glad you did.

May 22, 2018
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